The Secret Sauce to Build a Startup: Digital Media


Digital media. We all use it. It can be your website, a photo on Instagram, or a post on Facebook. The point is, the stories we share on digital media can be used to make or break our products. But what is the secret sauce here? How do we use digital media effectively to achieve maximum results? Well, we partnered up with Colombo Cooperative to speak about some case studies on how to effectively use digital media to enhance business opportunities.

Secret Sauce | Startups | Digital Media | Colombo CooperativeHow Digital Media Helped Value Craftsmanship

First up was Rayhana Jiffry. In case you haven’t heard of her, Rayhana is the Founder and CEO of Glitteray, which is a startup that designs and sells handcrafted jewellery.  The core value of Glitteray is to raise awareness and bring together a community to support and value craftsmanship.

Rayhana started off her session by talking about how she would post images of jewellery via social media. In fact, we also saw her speak on something similar at a session carried out by Startup School Colombo. All images that she posted grew organically. This means that there was no boosting of posts to reach a wider audience. Rather, people saw the posts, shared them and friends of her friends went on to do the same.

Rayhana | Colombo Cooperative | Digital Media
Rayhana Jiffry – Founder & CEO of Glitteray

Rayhana went on to explain that she measured how her posts performed. What she found out was that a noticeable portion of customers were males. While some might assume that they were buying it for their loved ones or significant others, in reality, they bought the jewellery for themselves. This made Rayhana and the team at Glitteray rethink their marketing content. As such, they have opted for a more neutral approach in their content.

The key takeaway from Rayhana was to understand your customers. Once you have identified your customers, you can then proceed to develop content that suits them. If the content you post is not attracting the correct customers, you will have to go back to the drawing board.

From 100 to over 2000 people filling up a room

Next up to talk about digital media was Safra Anver – Licensee of TEDxColombo. She opened her talk by sharing that in the early days, hardly anyone in Sri Lanka knew what TED was. This was the biggest challenge they faced initially. But after a series of successful events, the name TEDxColombo would become famous. And today, we see it fill up the entirety of Nelum Pokuna.

Safra Anver | Colombo Cooperative | Digital Media
Safra Anver – the licensee of TEDxColombo

Safra went onto share that while in the past the heavily utilized digital media, today they adopt a mix of digital and traditional media. For example, this year you’d likely have heard a few radio advertisements for TEDxColombo 2018. Yet, alongside these traditional mediums, the TEDxColombo team also equally utilized digital media in parallel. Safra went onto share that whenever they met, the TEDxColombo team always published posts on social media to share a glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes.

This combination has allowed them to build a strong community. One that according to Safra, will hunt for tickets by calling every sponsor of the event. As such, it’s important to utilize analytics to measure the effectiveness of your efforts on digital media. This is the key to understanding your community. This is a practice that TEDxColombo follows rigorously and Safra explained this saying that they knew Peter D’Almedia’s TED Talk went viral because he starred in Koombiyo.

A quick snapshot of the posts TEDxColombo shares
A quick snapshot of the posts TEDxColombo shares that give us a look what happens behind the scenes

The key takeaway from Safra’s talk was the importance of planning your content. She shared that the process of planning TEDxColombo begins very early each year in February. Similarly, their marketing plan is also drawn up around this time. And the team ensures that it’s a detailed plan to share their message across both digital and traditional media. Ultimately, such a combination is what a startup needs to grow today in Sri Lanka. Of course, your plans should still be flexible to allow you to adapt to unexpected changes.

The power of data

Lastly, we had Ragularuban “Ruban” Nanthagopal – Founder/CTO of Alakazam. He was here to talk about his views on using data for digital strategies. Ruban started off by explaining that before you start a business, you need to figure out what you’re going to sell, and to whom you will sell it to. This is where the product market comes into play. At the end of the day, the goal of a business is to generate revenue.

Ragularuban | Colombo Cooperative | Digital Media
Ragularuban “Ruban” Nanthagopal – Cofounder & CTO of Alakazam

You don’t need to have an elaborate complex plan on how to earn revenue. But still, having a plan, even in its barebones would help. According to Ruban, the public secret that no one talks about is that you need to identify a set of products, the people who are going to buy/use them and how you would connect the two to each other. Once you have all this data, you can get creative with it and conduct experiments.

For example, if you’re starting a business, take a look at our neighbors and see who they are. If you’re setting up a coffee shop, look out for students and residents around the area. Also, keep an eye out for foodies and coffee lovers. These would be your ideal market. Once you have identified your market, you can use a multitude of tools to promote your products/services.

Digital Media
After identifying your market, you can use a variety of tools to run creative campaigns. One of them is Instagram ads (Image credits: Key Media Solutions)

These can be in the form of Facebook/Google Ads, Instagram posts and even email campaigns. One particular example he shared was that a landing page campaign is a good way to gauge demand and interests. A landing page is a web page where a visitor “lands” when they have clicked on a Google AdWords ad or similar. Ruban also explained that you should be creative with campaigns.

All campaigns are not going to be the same or deliver the same results. But to understand the market, it’s important to cross-test all possibilities. Once your campaigns are in place, do whatever it takes to track your customer’s purchase patterns. This can help in identifying trends in how many people are aware of your product and how many people buy it.

Digital Media
Utilize analytics, measure everything, and co-relate it to revenue to see how well your digital media efforts are performing (Image credits: unmetric)

In conclusion, Ruban noted that anyone starting a business should get the numbers of their target market as soon as possible. If the numbers are not available, then steps should be taken to get those numbers. From there, you should keep an eye out on what needs be optimized or improved with your digital campaigns. Finally, always co-relate everything back to revenue. Why? Because in the end, the goal of a business is to generate revenue.

Helping your startup gain visibility

At the end of the day, the secret sauce to help a startup grow is digital media. To ensure you can use it effectively, you need to understand your customers. Have a plan to create content that they want. Feel free to conduct a variety of experiments when doing so. But always be sure to measure the results and when doing so be sure to co-relate it back to revenue.

However, it’s important to note that digital media is the secret sauce. To build a successful startup you still need other key ingredients such as the right product-market fit, market validation, an ecosystem, and so much more. So while you prepare those ingredients, we at ReadMe want to make it easier for you to utilize this sauce. As such, we concluded the event by announcing the launch of our digital media starter kit for startups. So if you’re curious about that, be sure to get in touch with us.


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